Disclaimer: There are more photos on this post than is regular.
Picture courtesy of Flycam Aerial Imaging
There’s a scene in the movie ‘The wolf of wall street’ when Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) is in his office after introducing Steve Madden, the Shoe Designer to his employees. He is giving this intensely motivating and bawdy speech when he says, “Let me tell you something. There is no nobility in poverty. I’ve been a poor man, and I’ve been a rich man. And I choose rich every fucking time.” That scene is vividly on replay in my mind. It’s because I want to be rich. I want that nobility. Also because, If I was asked to pick my shagz, I’d choose Kirinyaga, every damn time.
First, I’ll lay one argument to rest today. Kirinyagans are Okuyos for coitus sake. We are different, not wrong (cue in Am I wrong by Nico and Vinz; eyecandy alert). It’s just like when you cook sausages or Chapattis, one will always come out looking different. You know that sausage that turns out bent at the middle as if it had a bout of cramps when getting fried. Or the chapatti that looks like it has arms and was holding them up in protest as it was getting rolled. That’s the Okuyos from Kirig, as my pal calls it. We method in our madness. We talk different, we act different, and our women are generally feisty. Have you met the Martha K, the Iron lady?
You’ve met a guy from Kirinyaga though. This is how you know. He says ‘eys’ instead of ‘is’. Blame the nursery school rhymes:
This eys a chicken.
This eys a ngoat.
This eys a jurgary. (It’s a made up name for our native drop scones)
And so on.
Ironically, each December for the last few years, we have our day in the sun when the Cabinet Secretary of Education announces National KCPE results. We always outfox the other counties. That goes to show it doesn’t matter if he calls you Reydia, he might be as smart as Einstein. And this is how many Nairobi folk found themselves in Kerugoya or Kutus. Not the Reydia way, the education way.
If you’ve never been past Thika, Kirinyaga is about 60kms past Kenol. As you drive past River Sagana, you leave Muranga County on your left, Embu County on your right and drive into Kirinyaga. It’s a two hour drive from Nairobi using a personal car. It is two hours and half by mat because our mats are express and our people are intense. If the driver stops at Kagio to puff a smoke a minute too long, en masse the passengers will drag him back in kicking and probably pinch his nuts as caveat. Kirinyaga folk just don’t play like that.
Our Governor is Joseph Ndathi, a decent fellow with some kosher plans. He is on Facebook and Twitter and seems like a guy who doesn’t mind making hay from the new IT opportunities. All I know about him is he has refurbished a few open air markets and some roads. He seems to want to make a better fist and rise above the mundane histories of our past leaders. We can give this guy a chance, ey?
On issues hard-work, my people rise above mediocrity. But they would not know a Duro Olowu gown from an Eastleigh one. It’s often that you’d meet chaps hanging out in neon yellow wife beaters in the warmer months. Style is not our forte. These aristocracies are for our lakeside friends. We are ho-hum, pithy, and we do things without the fanfare. But what we lack in pomposity, we compensate in gusto and industriousness.
80% of our land is arable and the rest is forest, urban centers and quarries. Ergo, just as you get into Kirinyaga, is Tebere Cement, a quarry that’s in just about the driest zone and lowest altitude. Poverty level is at 27% meaning we are one of the better performing counties. Our roads have cars and carts in equal proportion ferrying people and farm produce in no particular order. The road signages informing the visitor to ‘heshimu punda’ to wit, ‘respect the donkey’ are of momentous value. In Mwea, if you hit a donkey on the road, you are a dead man walking or rather, driving. You better leave your missus to send an olive branch and pray hard she births them a donkey.
We grow or try to grow everything. We have Tea, coffee, maize, French beans, normal beans, all beans, rice (in mass), bananas, potatoes and tomatoes, all kinds of veggies, sugarcane, mangoes and avocadoes. Nowadays, I see green houses too with guys trying to grow flowers. Others are trying out khat. Folk here try hard at everything. We are just playing to the Kirinyaga DNA. The notoriety of Kirinyaga folk is that they swear worse than a drunken sailor and hearing vulgar spews is as commonplace as gumboots in Nyeri.
Past Makutano, is Savage Wilderness, home to the only bungeewalla place is Kenya. I told you we are different. Okay, maybe the guy that opened this place is a Gringo from Gringo-land but Kirinyaga offered just the right setting. I’m hangdog and admit to never having experienced this buzz in my backyard. I called Andreas Reblin once, a jolly sounding guy who runs this place but he was away on holiday and the place was closed for renovation. They have white water rafting down the rapids in River Sagana/Tana, chopper rides and natural gliding that in essence means, throwing you into a whirlpool that spins you around a number of times before spilling you into the mighty Sagana River. You will have a life vest so you are safely afloat and buoyant the whole time. But you might pee on yourself which is also safe because you are in water. Only the River will know. I hear the thrill is slow release. You’ll reel in that exhilaration hangover a whole week after.
Castle forest lodge is about 4kms from my home. On my last visit to this serene boudoir 2km inside Mount Kenya Forest, I read This is how you lose her by Junot Diaz from the hostelry as I munched on some tacos with guacamole. Then I got to this line, “The baby was by her ex boyfriend Kimani. He was a Kenyan student…” Hear that Origis? Okuyos are fast catching up on the international arena. It doesn’t matter how. The swimming pool here is amazing. Kina Satao’s cousins, the other elephants actually stop by to have a drink from the pool during the drier months. I have never experienced it and I often wonder what happens if you lifted your head up from the water and met Mr Jumbo. What’s the accepted code of conduct in that scenario? Do you gently shake trunks? Do you blow its trumpet by flattering the size of its trunk? Gee Satao, you are big! Does it trumpet back at you? Do you sweat? Can you even sweat in the wintry water? Does it jump in to hug you in that bone-breaking way they do?
The pool is the on the upper left hand side (From George’s drone)
I digress. The air up there is breathtakingly cool. You breathe it in as you stare at the bewitchingly spectacular view of the canopy that crawls up the snow topped quiescent giant, as you relax on the hammock outside the cabin Chalet Montane and you can feel it caress your lungs. When my campus chum George went out there earlier this year out of personal caprice, he took a video of this hidden gem using his drone, which he actually made at home. (This guy is 50 shades of cool. He also makes Miraa juice). (I’ll share a link. Watch it)
The best time to visit Kirinyaga is July during the rainy or cold season. It gets as cold as a witch’s bottom. When the ghoulishly chilling mist clings to the air like fungus and the bulls and donkeys push the carts slowly as snort oozes from their nostrils as if they too have caught the flu. Then, everything sprouting from the ground is greener than envy and all roads muddier than our politics. It’s so cold you wish your ass had more hair. I mean the donkey because it sleeps out in the cold. Then you’ll mutely witness the virgin industriousness of Kirinyaga folk. In the shadowy crack of dawn, they will be bent in the rice paddies haunting the earth for results or already getting back from Nairobi after delivering their produce at Marikiti Farmers Market. The indolent work shy ones will slink out later in the day to where they dexterously poke fun at their counterparts with hilarious and often vulgar comments. This is how they get invited to entertain their ‘men of means’ friends as they imbibe. Everyone has a role here. After all, man must live, no?